Coronavirus (COVID-19) Precautions

Updated Aug. 25, 2020.

For the latest information from Western Michigan University, visit the WMU news web page about the evolving situation. Highlights of the Health Center's response include:

  • WMU is covering out-of-pockets costs for students, faculty and staff. Details are here.
  • Hosting a daily screening survey for students, faculty and staff attending activities on campus.  Required for visitors to the health center.
  • WMU is recommending, but not mandating, testing for those returning to campus. Why not mandated?

Any WMU student, faculty or staff member with or without COVID-19 symptoms may contact the Sindecuse Health Center for testing. Currently-enrolled students and employees may use the patient portal to schedule. If the medical professional determines that you should be tested for COVID-19, they will make arrangements with you to get tested. Either way, you will receive guidance on how to care for yourself and what to do if your symptoms worsen.

Everyone will be asked to wear a mask when they arrive at the health center. All visitors will be asked screening questions and have their temperature taken upon arrival if they have not completed the online screening survey and shown their badge. Please do not come to the health center unless you have an appointment. Call first.

As this situation evolves, the most up-to-date source of information about coronavirus is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Precautions at the health center and WMU

The health center is taking precautions to reduce the risk to the campus community:

  • Implementing WMU's COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan (PDF) and Safe Reurn to Campus.
  • Asking patients to wear masks, limiting visits to patients only.
  • Screening visitors, limiting vistors.
  • Working with county officials to coordinate a response.
  • Increasing the frequency of cleaning in high-traffic areas.

Person-to-person spread

The virus spreads from person-to-person:

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (Close contact is defined as—being within approximately 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time—10 minutes or more).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneeze. These droplets can land in the mouths, noses or eyes of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). The virus can be spread by people before they show symptoms, or if they never develop serious symptoms.

How easily does the virus spread?

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”). Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.


Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed COVID-19 cases. Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure, based on what has been seen previously as the incubation period of MERS-CoV viruses:

  • Fever (above 100.4F degrees)
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sudden loss of sense of taste or smell

Prevention and Treatment

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. However, as a reminder, the CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC recommendations and government orders for using a facemask.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

What to do if you develop symptoms

Call ahead to a healthcare professional—do not visit in person—if:

  • you develop any of the symptoms described above
  • have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or

Your healthcare professional will determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.